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CliftonStrengths Positivity Theme: Teams and Managers

CliftonStrengths Positivity Theme: Teams and Managers

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Positivity
  • "Strong themes, stronger teams": Learn how your team can own its Positivity talents and become stronger, resulting in improved performance, organic growth and better wellbeing.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

We discover how the Positivity talent theme relates to your manager and your team in this Season 6 episode of Theme Thursday. When we improve teams through owning our CliftonStrengths, we improve performance. When we improve performance, that's how we get to the kind of organic growth that allows us to have stronger economies, a stronger world and better wellbeing. And great managers hold the key: As they move from boss to coach, they help team members understand who they are already and hold them accountable for being even better, maximizing the team's engagement and impact. You might even be a manager in ways you never thought of! So join Jim Collison and Maika Leibbrandt for Season 6, as we focus on teams and managers -- including a new talent-mindfulness challenge at the end of each webcast. Strong themes, stronger teams.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, Season 6, recorded on June 18, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:20

Theme Thursday is a Gallup webcast series that dives deep into the CliftonStrengths themes, one theme at a time -- this season based on developing teams and managers with CliftonStrengths -- and today's theme is Positivity. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room; there's a link right above me there, in the, in the window, there on our live page. It can take you to YouTube. Join us in the chatroom. If you have questions after the fact, send us an email: Don't forget, subscribe there on YouTube right below Maika, right there is a little Subscribe button you can click and subscribe. That makes sure, makes sure you get notified every time we do something new. Or search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast platform, and you will find us there. Maika Leibbrandt is our host today. She's a Senior Workplace Consultant, my best friend at work, and Maika, it's always great to see you. Welcome back to Theme Thursday!

Maika Leibbrandt 1:02

Pretty great to hang out with you, Jim, and good to be here. So this season, we're exploring every theme through the lens of team. And we know from our studies in leadership that strong teams have 5 things going for them. We're going to use these 5 Truths today, as we get into the detail of Positivity. We're going domain by domain this season, and so we're in the Relationship Building Domain. And it's been pretty fun to just get to stick to the domain for a while. I feel like it's, it's teaching us quite a bit. In fact, I led a session this week where somebody said, "What does it mean if I've got some themes in the domain really high, and some in that same domain really low?" And the answer that I offered was, "Well it just changes the flavor of how you do what it is suggesting that that, that domain does. So, I hope today you can lean into Positivity and understand how Positivity builds relationships, or what Positivity brings to your team beyond just, "Oh, they're a people person."

Maika Leibbrandt 1:55

So let's look at the short definition of Positivity. If you have dominant Positivity, you have contagious enthusiasm. You are upbeat, and you can get others excited about what they are going to do. The first truth of a strong team that we're going to explore Positivity from is how strong teams deal with conflict. It's that Conflict doesn't destroy them, because strong teams focus on results.

Jim Collison 2:22

I think Positivity gets maligned sometimes by folks when it's the happy-go-lucky, right? When it's the partygoer -- those aren't, those aren't generally necessarily talents that lead to success. They could be, I guess, if you're throwing a party, but it's -- as we think about this, and this idea of focusing on results, Maika, I think it's really, really important. How do we look at Positivity, and see results in it?

Maika Leibbrandt 2:46

Good use of "maligned," first of all -- 10,000-point word, Jim!

Jim Collison 2:49

Well, you said "bestoke," or something --

Maika Leibbrandt 2:51


Jim Collison 2:53

"Bespoke" in the other one --

Maika Leibbrandt 2:55

In Individualization. No, I think, you know, Positivity can be a megaphone that says, Hey, let's, you know, let's all be excited about this! But it can also be like a stage whisper. You know, it can be the, "You've got this!" or "How are you?" or "I believe in you enough to want to elevate your mood." And so, I loved what you said, Jim, that it's not just that happiness does not equal Positivity; it's that happy-go-lucky party thrower does not necessarily equal results. So, Positivity, just like the 33 other themes, exists because our research suggests it's been natural patterns of behavior that have led to positive performance. So when you think about what does that mean for focusing on results, someone with dominant Positivity is on the lookout for what is energizing, or joyful or cause for enthusiasm around those results. They can help others see the enjoyment even in a challenge -- the potential to have fun in the process, even when it seems difficult.

Maika Leibbrandt 3:56

I think about Positivity, almost like embedded in engagement. We're always looking in organizations that we look for of, How can we make work a place that everybody can't wait to come to? Positivity approaches life that way as well. How can I infect this space with some enthusiasm that feels magnetic -- that, that creates a space that other people want to be a part of? So, inspiring results to someone with Positivity are likely those that are going to make an obvious elevation of the emotion of the team. So they'll be most excited about goals that relate more directly to improving the human experience, or the energy of other people. You can even just ask them, if you've got someone with high Positivity on your team, ask them how their current priorities inspire, or motivate or otherwise change other people for the better.

Jim Collison 4:45

Lisa, Lisa says it in the chat room, Why dwell on the negative? Right? I think a good slogan for those with Positivity. How does Positivity track progress?

Maika Leibbrandt 4:54

They might track people they've influenced or situations that they've offered a lightness or a joy to; they'll look for opportunities to celebrate along the way toward a win. So tracking progress for Positivity is sort of looking out for -- this almost sounds like Achiever -- Achiever's looking for milestones to say, "We did this!" and to check it off the list. Positivity is looking for opportunities to celebrate or recognition moments. And these are important. They provide a boost of energy, even to people without Positivity to really keep going. They're sort of like the, the "touch home base" moments, both for the person with Positivity and for the people around them.

Jim Collison 5:33

Truth No. 2.

Maika Leibbrandt 5:35

"Strong teams prioritize what's best for the organization and then move forward."

Jim Collison 5:40

So how does someone with Positivity focus on a larger goal or purpose rather than just their own?

Maika Leibbrandt 5:45

When it comes to connecting to what's best for the organization, someone with Positivity can have almost a "mission moment" feel to them. They look for why what's best about the organization, or what's best for the organization, will influence other people in a good way. Maybe the people who work there, maybe it's the community that they're in, maybe it's the industry that they're representing -- they can see those organizational goals as opportunities to inspire, to motivate or to celebrate. And that makes those goals really rich with potential for someone with Positivity. I also noticed in the chat that Laura says --where did it go? -- "It's really important to remember Positivity is a Relationship Building theme." Yeah, absolutely. So I think about this, we, in, not long ago, we talked about Developer, another Relationship Building theme, which is focused on the growth of other people. Positivity is focused on the emotional state of other people. It's about how can I set the tone so that others feel this kind of contagious enthusiasm that I also feel?

Jim Collison 6:46

Yeah, in previous seasons, we've talked about these themes as "me and we," and it's very powerful internal, but it's also powerful externally, as we think about its effect on teams. We'll talk about it today. What, what inspires someone with Positivity to maybe take action?

Maika Leibbrandt 7:01

Being around other people. Noticing the humor in a situation and a way to share it, and awareness of potentially negative or really emotionally charged situations. And with that awareness, maybe the idea of how they can elevate the, the emotion of people there, so that good work can happen -- not just so that people are happy, but so that they can -- I think people with Positivity understand that more innovation happens, more trust happens, greater productivity happens when we can breathe a little bit easier, and they have the ability to lighten your load and help you be able to do that. I would say Positivity does have this desire for joy. But it's about shared joy. It's about the joy that creates connections people to people, like Laura said in the chat, it's a Relationship Building theme. And somebody with Positivity knows that bringing this to others serves them well and serves the ultimate goal very well.

Jim Collison 8:02

And remember, we can have moments of joy with tears and resolve, right? And so it's not just always not laughing. Let's look at Truth No. 3.

Maika Leibbrandt 8:11

So this is, "Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work."

Jim Collison 8:18

And how does Positivity show up in someone's personal life?

Maika Leibbrandt 8:23

I think they always know just how to be there to let the light in -- to inspire hope, to elevate your emotion. Positivity -- we've said this, I think, pretty overtly today -- it's not about being loud or bubbly. It might show up as someone who throws an excellent party, but it also might just be someone who writes a note or expresses gratitude meaningfully, in the moment that it's needed. Positivity might also show up purely as fun. I mean, it might be somebody who you notice is always up for a goofy challenge -- inviting joy and hope, telling stories, sharing good humor. It might be that person who you find yourself looking toward when things feel too heavy, and it's not looking toward them to be a clown. It's looking toward them for the release that they can offer.

Jim Collison 9:12

And genuine, right? We may be looking forward to that encounter, to that engagement because it lifts us up. So what questions could a manager use, knowing this, to ask someone with with Positivity?

Maika Leibbrandt 9:27

What are you celebrating? What should we be celebrating? What makes you hopeful? What do you notice that's inspiring or motivating? What are you enjoying most lately? How are you sparking joy or hope this weekend? And what's something fun that's going on?

Jim Collison 9:45

And then, so, let's look at No. 4.

Maika Leibbrandt 9:47

Yeah. No. 4, acknowledges the fact that when we all come from different places, we bring different perspectives and that difference benefits the team. So it's that "Strong teams embrace diversity." Your CliftonStrengths themes are not enough to solve for diversity, but what we're using here is the idea that let's name Positivity for what's different, what's diverse about it. What does it bring that no other theme might?

Jim Collison 10:11

What are a few descriptor words that we could use for it?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:14

You could say the person on your team with, with high Positivity is joyful, hopeful, calm -- there's a lightness about them, an infectious energy. They can light up a room, glass-half-full mentality -- that might be, I don't know, a colloquialism, but it is about seeing opportunity more than they're seeing limitation -- optimistic, resilient, supportive and an encourager.

Jim Collison 10:40

And what unique perspective does Positivity bring to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 10:44

Even when times are really dark and tough, someone with Positivity can see what can be good. They might find this through humor. They might also find it through patience, or even through just a silence that isn't rattled. There's something contagious about their desire to, and ability to, celebrate other people. Laughter matters to them. Joy matters. And someone with Positivity brings this to the team by the truckload.

Jim Collison 11:12

OK, Truth No. 5.

Maika Leibbrandt 11:15

No. 5, our final of the 5 Truths, is "Strong teams are magnets for talent." Another way to spot a strong team is to look for the one that everyone's clamoring to be a part of.

Jim Collison 11:25

And this may be a no-brainer, but what, what does Positivity attract? How does it attract?

Maika Leibbrandt 11:30

Yeah, who wouldn't be attracted to Positivity? (Wink, wink.) Their optimism and joy I think helps people exhale a little bit. It makes it seem like your load isn't as heavy as you -- as it was alone. Now at times, someone on your team with Positivity can get so good at providing this -- at helping shoulder the loads of other people by building a scaffolding of hope and joy, that you feel it when they're not there. So they lighten the mood, they create a space, as I mentioned, for innovation to happen, for problems to get solved. They lead with, "It'll be OK." Or, "Hey, here's what's good about this." And that can help everybody pause -- just long enough to sort out what needs to be done next.

Jim Collison 12:17

And how might you describe that gift that Positivity brings to a team?

Maika Leibbrandt 12:20

I call it "fun," and I might stop right there. But it's also joy, celebration, energy -- not naivete, just an intentional and repeated choice to focus on the positive and what can be, and focus on seeing the glass as being half-full.

Jim Collison 12:40

Yeah, in, in, in an authentic way -- easier to, easier, I think, to think than to say, but -- doing it authentically. Review those 5 for me.

Maika Leibbrandt 12:49

You said "authentic" twice. I think it's worth saying again. I think sometimes people try to "put on Positivity," or to say "be positive" as something that applies to everyone. When we're talking about Positivity as a strength, and when you encounter somebody who truly has this as a natural pattern of how they think, and feel and behave 24 hours a day, you have the gift of realizing how it feels when it's real. So, I think that sometimes Positivity gets maligned, Jim, or gets misunderstood, because so many people try to think about it as a behavior that they can adopt. And we can all be a little bit more positive for sure. But somebody with Positivity, it's not just a behavior, it's how they're thinking. It's how they solve problems. It's, it's not something they turn on or turn off. And I think that's where the genuine piece of it comes from.

Jim Collison 13:39

Review those 5 again for us.

Maika Leibbrandt 13:41

Thanks. 1) Results, not conflict. 2) Do what's best for the organization and then move forward. 3) Work and personal lives matter. 4) Embrace diversity. 5) Magnets for talent. If you're a coach, I hope you read Strengths Based Leadership to learn more about this, and then think about using this as you're evaluating a team. It's, it's not enough just to map your team grid, and say, "Here's our strengths." These 5 give you a jumping-off point to say, What are we really good at? Why are we good at it? And what could we maybe make as our next step for desiring how we want to get better?

Jim Collison 14:12

Yeah, we've been spending some time this season working through these talent-mindfulness exercises. You've got a great one for us here, Maika. What do you have?

Maika Leibbrandt 14:18

This one's really good. It's also a little bit heavier. So this is talent-mindfulness. And this is a practice for you, regardless of your talent profile. It's not about Positivity as a theme, although you might hear a trend to it. Strengths-based development is not just about taking the assessment and having new and better and fancier words to describe yourself with. It doesn't change you until it's something you incorporate into your life -- on purpose. That means paying attention to what's working. That means mindfully addressing challenges. It also just means breathing. Breathing with an awareness that you have what it takes to succeed. So the next 3 to 5 minutes are not going to make you more positive. They are going to be a break from the rhythm of your day.

Maika Leibbrandt 15:10

Set your intention to this. I grant myself the permission to be present and thoughtful for just a few minutes today. I turn down the volume of the world around me, and I am still. Now take a deep breath in, and when you're ready, a big, sloppy, reckless exhale. Drop your expectations. Unwrinkle your eyebrows. Release your shoulders. Set down anything heavy that you might be carrying. We're talking today about pain. Pain is a part of life. Suffering. Challenge. Hurt. It's a human experience. Even on a softer scale, pain can look like stress, like frustration, like confusion, like discomfort. And it can be a sneaky thing. It can be something we pile on and accept throughout the day; something we carry with us and gather, collecting discomfort like little pebbles in our pockets.

Maika Leibbrandt 16:31
Take another deep breath in, and this time, hold it at the top. Allow holding your breath to feel uncomfortable. ... And when you exhale, imagine emptying your pockets of anything you're carrying -- any of those pebbles of discomfort. Release that pain, just for a while, but don't forget about it. Learn from it. Allow the discomfort to change you.

Maika Leibbrandt 17:08

My son's preschool class recently had baby chickens. They raised them in an incubator. They learned all about the, the process of what was going on within the shell. And then I got to watch the process of those baby chicks as they hatched out of the eggs. I can't imagine there was anything comfortable about that for the chick. The shell that kept them safe, protected, that grew them and, and helped them stay contained had to be broken through -- shattered -- with their face. Fear is a lot like a shell around us. Fear that we can't survive the pain of breaking through it, or that our future won't be as comfortable, or as promising, or as fun as the nostalgia of our past. Breaking through that shell takes pain. It takes courage.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:09

Today, I hope you have the courage to break through the shell of what you thought was enough -- what you thought was normal. Because outside of that, there is an entire world of potential just waiting for you to -- shake off the gunk, and spread your wings, and take up space. Within you there is strength. Weakness, we know, can be understood and mitigated, to a point. But when we focus on strength, the potential to learn, and grow and improve is infinite. To get there, it takes some comfort.

Maika Leibbrandt 18:47

Maybe you've been feeling some discomfort. Maybe you've been feeling some pain. That pain could be you breaking through to something even better. You have to be brave enough to feel it. It takes a lot of courage. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It's not. That's why we call it "excellence." That's why we talk about strength as being remarkable -- as being world-class. Think right now about one conversation you could have this week that breaks through the shell of what was, into the world of what can be. Who will you talk with? What will you ask? How will you listen? There's a big, wide world of greatness just waiting for you. And that's your talent-mindfulness today.

Jim Collison 19:55

Not as heavy as I thought it was gonna be, but really good. Thanks for, thanks for sharing that with us. I think, it's a, you know, it's, it's, for what's going on right now, in June of 2020, I think it's just a good message. And so, encourage you if you, maybe were chatting too much in the chat room during that time, maybe go back and catch it again. We record all this for you, and it's available.

Jim Collison 20:18

A couple reminders before we go -- one, best way into all the resources we have available, before, I just got an email from somebody this week who had been gone for a while, was coming back -- What's, where do I go? Well, you go to You can sign in to Access from there; it takes you right to your Strengths Dashboard -- a great way, and a lot of great resources, including some awesome ones. By the way, worldwide launch of a pretty cool video coming for those listening live, coming tomorrow, during Dean's Called to Coach, so you just might want to be there. You can, you can follow all those things and all that we do out there at Sign up for the newsletter while you're there -- it's at the bottom of the page. We'll send you out a monthly update of everything that's going on here in the strengths world. If you have questions, send us an email: If you want to follow us on Eventbrite, and know all the live events are happening, because live is more fun, right Maika? Live's more fun?

Maika Leibbrandt 21:06

Oh, it's way more fun to be alive!

Jim Collison 21:09

Totally more fun to be live. Join us live, do that: Create an account; follow us there, you'll get a notification. This morning, when I posted Strategic, the Strategic Thinking Domain episode that's coming up, we had 40 people register for it in the first 30 minutes! So you could do that as well. You could be first. Don't miss it. Get that done. If you want to join us on Facebook: If you want to join us on LinkedIn, search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" and we'll get you in that group as well. Want to thank you for joining us today. A smidgen of a postshow here, at the end, and again, live's more fun. We'll see you next time. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

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